SONY has invested at least £50m in the makers of His Dark Materials, claiming that this will help them become Europe’s largest drama production.
The Cardiff-based producers, Bad Wolf, have sold a majority stake to Sony Pictures, claiming that the deal will allow them to expand.
Sony Pictures is thought to have invested between £50 million and £60 million.
Wayne Garvie, Sony Pictures president of international production, worked with Bad Wolf founders Jane Tranter and Julie Gardner at the BBC.
Tranter and Gardner were responsible for bringing the Doctor Who production to Cardiff in 2005, and stated that one of the reasons they founded Bad Wolf in Splott in 2015 was because of that excellent experience.
Bad Wolf, according to Mr Garvie, has yet to reach its “zenith” and will continue to grow.
It is the largest production firm in the United Kingdom, outside of London, and it will co-produce Doctor Who with the BBC beginning in 2023.
The name of the production company, “Bad Wolf” is a reference to an entity in the first series of Doctor Who, that was made in Wales.
Mr Garvie added: “We have [another] company called Left Bank Pictures who make The Crown, which you may have watched, and which is Britain’s biggest drama company. And we built that together with the founders of the company over about eight years or so.
“And we want to do the same with Bad Wolf. There is no reason why Bad Wolf should not be or could not be the biggest drama producer in Britain and in Europe. And that is our ambition.”
Wales’ recent history of creating high-end TV and movies, he added, assisted in the decision to invest.
“One of the things we found really attractive about Bad Wolf was the passion they had for Wales, the people in Wales and their commitment to Wales,”
Tranter, Bad Wolf’s chief executive, said: “The kind of television dramas that Bad Wolf produces are huge. It is a very scary thing to do.
“We love it, and we want to go on and do bigger shows. But there comes a point when we have to acknowledge that in order to produce on an increasing scale and ambition, we need to take a partner and collaborator and investor with us on that journey.
“Ms Tranter said Sony’s experience would help “stabilise” the company, but she wanted the investment to propel it into the “next phase of its journey”.
Director of production and performance at the University of South Wales (USW), Tom Ware, claims Bad Wolf have boosted the creative industries.
“The kind of content they produce – big, high-end TV dramas that can be distributed globally – has put Welsh screen industries on the map.
“It has also contributed massively to the development of talent across a wide range of areas – obviously production, but also animation, visual effects and lots of other areas of the screen industries that were here before they came, but Bad Wolf’s presence has kick-started their development.”
To address sometimes chronic shortages of crews, Bad Wolf has developed its own training and worked with education providers to recruit new staff.
Mr Ware said more than 100 USW graduates had gone on to work at the production company, adding: “It has been great for all educational institutions in Wales, but more to the point it has been a huge boost for the Welsh economy.”
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